Tagged: passion

What Flag Day can teach us about Passion, Brand Identity and Advocacy.

“The “Stars and Stripes”, the official National symbol of the United States of America, was authorized by congress on Saturday June 14, 1777 – the fifth item of the days agenda. In Waubeka, Wisconsin, in 1885 Bernard John Cigrand a nineteen year old school teacher in a one room school, placed a 10” 38 star flag in an inkwell and had his students write  essays on what the flag meant to them. He called June 14th the flag’s birthday.” – The National Flag Day Foundation

Flag Day was not officially established until 1926, by then President Woodrow Wilson. It would take another 33 years for congress to establish an act proclaiming National Flag Day.

Although not a noticed national holiday, it speaks volumes about the simple passion that a symbol can engender in the spirit of mankind. The flag of the United States is the most recognized symbol in the country and one of the most recognized flags in the world. It’s not the colors- many other countries host red, white and blue in their flags of origin.  It’s not the shapes, stripes and stars abound as well. It’s the passion behind the symbol that drives the recognition.

And that passion drives advocacy- the advocacy that lead to June 14th being established as National Flag Day by an Act of Congress in August of 1949.

Symbols are just pretty pictures without Passion. Passion is just a strong emotion without Advocacy. All three working in beautiful union can move mountains and congress and establish unthinkable outcomes.

Passion, in the boardroom, gives birth to a fundraising high

Fundraising for an organization on which a person serves as a board member is a core component of their role. Why? Because a boards role is to govern and act as fiduciary authority for the protection of the organization.  According to a Grant Thornton report from 2008, boards spent 30% of their time on Strategic Planning, followed by Fundraising at 21%. That’s more than 50% of the board’s time spent on governance and raising money.

That’s the official requirement.

“When non profit board members are fired up about the real change they want to make in the world, they are more willing to embrace fundraising.”  – Gail Perry

But there is something more real. More authentic. Something of which I hope you can relate, because the power that comes from having board members with passion is beyond measure.

Passion=Philanthropy

Passion drives philanthropy. Philanthropy drives fundraising.

Fundraising is not about talking your friends out of their money….its about giving them the opportunity to get involved in something important to you, something that will give them satisfaction in successfully making a difference, having their investment show results, feel rewarded.

As philanthropy professionals, we want our boards to be excited about the possibilities for our mission and be eager to help create the resources to make it happen.

That means a lot of work for the organization in engaging our board. The organization will need to set strategy and keep it. Set goals and reach them.  Show results. Share stories on how they have changed lives. Be responsible to their clients and to the board for the organizations actions.  Prove their value through their work.

But it is also work for the board.

Board members have promised to steward and guide the organization and its donors, to be strong, passionate advocates about the work being performed and to harness that passion in gathering much needed revenue to continue to serve the mission. It is an essential requirement that they work toward developing that passion, through active participation in the organizations activities: presence at the board meetings, special gatherings, organizational events, and through donor engagement.

Passion builds Philanthropy, through enthusiastic and engaged leadership, the type that revs people up and makes them want to be a part of what’s going on!

A passionate board member:

  • Has no problem helping in ask for a large gift from a donor.
  • Picks up the phone without prompting to thank a donor he knows.
  • Introduces himself enthusiastically at events to donors and new friends, eager to share the mission.
  • Offers to write notes of encouragement on solicitation letters.
  • Gets excited and provides recommendations on fundraising success and progress.
  • Shares with her vendors and clients her experience at the organization and asks them to help her.
  • Invites neighbors and friends to a reception at his home to present programs stories and solicit support.
  • Invites an organizations administrator to coffee with them next time they are meeting a friend.
  • Makes their own personal financial commitment to the organization, because it feels good, they are excited to do so and they give sacrificially, leading by example.

And that my friends, is fundraising

This is a partnership between you, the philanthropy professional, and your board members. A team effort that when carefully nurtured, has been shown to move mountains. Be careful on who you pick to be at your board table: bad choices will never build passionate support no matter how hard you try. Give your board clear roles, expectations and measured outcomes to support their effort. Allow them access and authority to staff, programs, data. Encourage their results. Build their passion.

So, before we complain once more about the board that does nothing to raise funds, make sure you’ve invited passion into your boardroom, that you are igniting passion in your board members and that passion is driving your philanthropy.